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Oslo study shows e-bike subsidisation effective in encouraging active travel

86 days ago

2 minutes

Source: Science Direct, Journal of Transport & Health Vol. 35, H.B. Sundfør, S. Berntsen, E.T. Bere, A. Fyhri

Researchers have noted that although there have been multiple e-bike subsidisation programs in Europe, limited research has been done on the effects of these schemes on travel behaviour, and whether they encourage more cycling and physical activity.

E-bike subvention study overview

Hanne Beate Sundfør, Sveinung Berntsen, Elling Tufte Bere, and Aslak Fyhri conducted a study on the effects of e-bike incentivisation in Oslo, Norway during 2020. It looked at the short-term effects on citizens who received a subsidisation from the government towards purchasing an e-bike, paying special attention to how it affected their cycling and physical activity levels.

The subvention from Oslo City Council offered to cover up to 50% of the cost of an e-bike for residents. The study involved subvention beneficiaries completing questionnaires about the distance they travelled on various modes, and overall distance. It also involved them self-reporting the time they spent on e-cycling, conventional cycling, walking, moderate physical activity, and vigorous physical activity.

Bicycle usage and physical activity hypothesis

The group tested 3 theories about e-bike purchase subsidization effects on everyday cycling and physical activity. Firstly, that subsidising e-bikes would increase bicycle usage for trips below 50 km. Secondly, that subventions would lead to an increase in MET physical activity due to more daily active travel, including e-biking, conventional cycling and walking. And thirdly that subsidising e-bikes would lead to higher overall MET minutes of physical activity, (where MET means metabolic equivalent of task, a fitness measurement that signifies how intense a physical exercise is).

Results

Findings showed that Oslo’s 2020 e-bike subvention program positively impacted cycling behaviour. The study team discovered an increase in distances travelled by bike, and cycling itself as a more commonly used transport mode. It found that the scheme resulted in e-bike activity climbing by 12.6%, with citizens using electric instead of conventional bikes, public transport and cars.

The study also revealed that while e-biking increased, conventional bicycling and walking decreased. Interestingly the researchers discovered that there had been an increase in MET-minutes from active transportation overall, showing that the higher levels of e-biking exercise covered the reduced exercise from walking and conventional cycling, showing the positive effects of Oslo’s subvention on encouraging more active travel through e-biking.

Learn about the study in more depth and how it could aid environmental and public health targets.

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